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Dogs and Mothballs

With summer, comes the influx of animals, both wanted and unwanted into unfenced lawn areas. Unfortunately, some people around Strathmore have been using an old "remedy" to combat this; mothballs along the perimeter of the fence line. I am a conscientious dog owner. I pick up poop religiously, keep my pet out of flowerbeds and away from children and other pedestrians. However, my small and friendly dog could have died tonight, because quick as a flash during our walk, she scooped up a mothball along the sidewalk line of a neighbor's yard. Luckily for me, she is well-trained and dropped it on command. Had I been unlucky and had not noticed, or had she swallowed it before I saw what happened, she could have been subject to ear, nose and throat irritation, respiratory problems, vertigo, confusion, nausea and vomiting, followed by convulsions, liver and kidney failure, and finally death. The same would be true of a small child who was curious and picked up one of the small white balls. With this particular insecticide, ingestion isn't necessary for toxicity; simply carrying it around in one little hand could cause a child to absorb enough poison to harm them through skin contact and inhaling the vapors. Death can occur from the ingestion of even just one moth ball, and while symptoms of poisoning may take two hours to occur, the only remedy is gastric lavage with a charcoal solution, which must be administered within 30 - 60 minutes of ingestion. Victims of poisoning may also need IV fluids and oxygen to combat other symptoms. Please remember that no amount of lawn care is worth killing your neighbor's children or pets. Nor is it worth going to jail; using pesticides and insecticides in a manner counter to their label directions is illegal. It is important to remember that you could also harm or kill your own family this way; while over time, soil absorbs and breaks down the poisons in mothballs, it can also leach into your garden soil and into any fruit or vegetable plants you may be growing, causing kidney failure among other complications. If you suspect your animal or child has fallen victim to mothball toxicity, please call your doctor or veterinarian immediately. Do not induce vomiting as this can worsen the problem.

Author: K. O'Connor


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